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School: Getting it right first time

What makes a good Reception Class?

Written by Nicola Masters - Head of Early Years & KS at Akeley Wood School

painting As September looms ever closer there are no doubt mixed emotions of excitement and apprehension as our pre-schoolers graduate into Reception and enter a new stage of their lives. Choosing a school for your child is never easy and in my role as Head of Early Years I am often asked by parents, what makes a good Reception Class?

A high quality Reception or Foundation class should always be led by a qualified and experienced member of staff who has clear knowledge and understanding of the Early Years Curriculum. They should be able to answer your questions about what your child will experience in a typical day and talk confidently about how your child’s progress will be monitored and assessed.

When you visit the school, staff should talk you through the procedures for transition from Home or Nursery into school. A good transition policy incorporates meetings for parents, settling in sessions, parent and pupil information packs and in some cases home visits, all of which happen prior to the start of term.

Above all the Reception class must offer opportunities for purposeful play, through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. A common misconception is that a highly structured, teacher led, Reception class will provide better academic outcomes. However, early childhood research clearly shows that play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, problem solve, and encouraging them to develop vital personal, social and emotional skills which help them learn how to relate to others.

To get the balance right schools need to be transparent about what they offer in their Foundation Stage and work in partnership with parents to ensure that every child reaches their full potential.

Things to check:

• Reception Teacher is a qualified and experienced Early Years specialist

• There is a clear system of monitoring and assessing progress

• A good transition procedure is in place to aid settling in

• Class environment and teaching ethos offers plenty opportunities for purposeful play

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For More Information about Akeley Wood School visit

If you are unhappy with your Primary School allocation and are considering Independent schooling as an alternative please contact Nicola Masters for an informal confidential chat at Akeley Wood Junior School, Wicken 01908 571231.

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